The fig tree is a tree that demands very little care and offers tasty fruits, although care must be taken that when cultivating the tree canopy does not invade the neighboring garden.
If you want to enjoy a fig tree in the garden, one of the few cares you should have is to choose the place where it should be planted, since it does not grow much in height, but towards the sides and its roots. Once planted in a good location requires little attention.
The fig tree is a fairly small tree. In general, it is between four and five meters high, although sometimes it can reach 10. However, we must be careful with its size: although it does not grow too much, it does so sideways and, if planted in the garden, the cup could “invade” the land of a neighboring house. On the other hand, we must also pay attention to its roots, whose growth over the years can raise the soil a great distance from the trunk.
Its scientific name, Ficus carica, shows that, beyond differences in size, it is part of the same genus as the indoor ficus. In fact, the word “fig” etymologically derives from “ficus.” This tree is native to the Middle East, but today it grows naturally throughout the Mediterranean area and in other regions of the world, such as India, China, Brazil, Mexico and the United States.
One of the great advantages of the fig tree is its ability to develop on dry land, which receives no more irrigation than rain. And as it hardly demands human work, its fruits have long been considered almost as gifts of nature and have been present in the food of many cultures.
Conditions conducive to the development of the fig tree
The fig trees withstand extreme temperatures well, between -7 and 40 ° C, therefore, they are found in areas with very diverse climates. However, the optimum temperature for its development is around 18 ° C.
Pruning of the fig tree should follow the recommended guidelines for fruit trees: in the first years, a pruning of formation until it begins to bear fruit, and then of cleaning and fruiting. However, it is a tree that should not be cut too much, only what is essential to ensure your health. It is advisable to prune in the last part of the winter, especially in February or early March.
They can live with very little water. They appreciate receiving more watering, but frequent rains and excessive humidity damage fruit quality.
The most suitable soils for this tree are those that contain high levels of calcium and have good drainage. That is why it grows well on stony ground.
The multiplication can be done through seeds and grafts, although this last procedure only makes sense if the variety of fig trees already cultivated is intended to be changed. But the simplest thing for the amateur is to acquire in a nursery a tree that already has a couple of years of life. When planting it, it is advisable to attach it to a stake to ensure its stability, and then periodically check the tie to prevent the trunk from strangling. The most ideal time to plant or transplant is winter.
The fig trees and their pollination.
The pollination that fig flowers need is a fairly unique process. They depend on a type of insect known as fig wasps. They are responsible for transporting their genetic material and allowing its reproduction. In addition, the wasps could not live without the figs since they deposit the larvae inside. This relationship is known as symbiosis.
The female wasp enters the male fig to lay eggs, since it has a special way of housing them. Upon entering the fig tree, the wasp loses its wings and antennae, losing the possibility of going out and dying inside.
The new puppies reproduce among themselves inside the fig and make a tunnel to leave the fig. Female offspring carry pollen with them to continue the cycle. Sometimes, the wasps accidentally enter a female fig(which we eat), they have no space to reproduce inside and, unable to leave, die inside. This consequence is necessary to transport pollen.
But you shouldn’t be alarmed or stop eating figs because they have an enzyme called ficin that causes wasp bodies to break down inside the fig and transform into proteins.
In addition, at present, the sacrificial work of wasps is almost never necessary to grow figs, since most varieties are parthenogenetic, that is, they bear fruit without the need for a pollinator.